By DIANA AL-JASSEM - ARAB NEWS - JEDDAH: Many Saudi women claim getting and maintaining a high quality profession has proven difficult despite the government’s efforts to improve employment opportunities for them because men are refusing to move with the times.
Saudi women claim companies are hiring them only to show off, while in reality they refuse to let them function properly in a working environment.
S. Al-Qurashi works in IT for a communications company. She said she had been working in vain to establish a women’s IT section for the last four years. “Since I started working for this IT department, I have been compiling a team that now consists of seven women. I taught them how to work professionally. The women’s IT section is more active and works harder than the men’s IT section. Still, my boss refused to hire me as a supervisor of female IT employees. The men’s section has a supervisor though,” she said.
Al-Qurashi said her boss believes women should not be hired in any official management position.
She recently moved from the IT section to the business development department to escape her boss. “I studied IT and I have never worked in other field, but I felt too pessimistic and couldn’t continue working under a supervisor who refused women to participate in the workplace. Fortunately, I am now supervised by a more open minded director,” she said.
Shahd Suliman worked for a governmental hospital in Riyadh in human resources. She believes men in the public sector couldn’t accept women participating in the job market.
“Most men working in government departments are quite blatant in their opposition to women in the job market,” she said.
“They sometimes restrict women employees by insulting them and banning them from taking up certain jobs. For example, I presented my CV to the Ministry of Civil Affairs where they transferred me to a governmental hospital in Riyadh and I was recommended to work in the human resources department. The director of the department refused to transfer me to the women’s office. He said that he wanted me to work ‘in front of his eyes’ as a secretary,” she said.
He said he would give her a higher salary if she agreed to work as a secretary, she added.
“I refused that opportunity because he wanted me to waive my opportunity to take a prestigious job and work as a secretary.”
According to Suliman, she got another job opportunity at a government hospital but she still suffers from discrimination from men.
“I am working as a public relations employee. My boss gives me additional work to do such as typing promotions and pamphlets, translating texts, revising and editing texts written by him. However, all these duties are not in my job description,” she said.
“My job is to organize meetings with foreign visitors and doctors, receive them at the airport, organize their accommodation in hotels as well as prepare for events. My boss banned me from doing my job saying women must stay in the office. This is why he made me a writer and editor of the hospital pamphlets,” she said.
Sara Al-Ansari, a Saudi marketing employee, confirmed that she quit her previous job when her boss refused to let her participate in business development meetings with foreign investors.
“I have been working in marketing for six years. During the first five years I was an employee that handled promotions and implemented them for customers. My job was done mainly through the telephone and email. Recently in 2011 the company owner recommended me to be in charge of business development strategies. He asked my supervisor to transfer me to a separate office then trained me how to discuss projects with investors and companies,” she said.
“My boss obeyed the company owner and transferred me to a nice office. However, he never allowed me to visit other companies and discuss projects with consultants. My job was to write letters and send mails from the office. Actually, my boss delayed my contract for three months as he was trying to stop me from doing this job. In fact, he said himself that he couldn’t meet investors while women were with him.”